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New York Riptide.

NLL Power Rankings: Two Teams Punch Tickets, Two Spots Remain

April 15, 2024
Jack Goods
National Lacrosse League

Two more teams punched their tickets to the postseason in the penultimate week of the National Lacrosse League regular season.

Buffalo will get a chance to defend its title, while Halifax will have another opportunity to string together a long sought after postseason run.

Two positions remain. Who among Panther City, Vancouver, Saskatchewan, New York and Rochester will get the chance at playoff glory?

1. Toronto Rock (14-3)

The Rock will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs, securing the No. 1 overall seed for the first time since 2015 with a 13-6 win against Rochester. That lopsided final score doesn’t even fully represent how one-sided the contest was, with Toronto taking a 10-1 lead into the halftime break. Four players notched five points — Tom Schreiber, Challen Rogers, Tom Schreiber and Corey Small. Last week: 2

2. San Diego Seals (13-5)

The Seals were tripped up by Saskatchewan 13-8 but are still locked into the No. 2 seed. That’s helpful, considering the team is 7-1 at Pechanga Arena and 5-4 anywhere else. The defeat was San Diego’s first since March 2 and only the second since early February. Last week: 1

3. Georgia Swarm (10-7)

The Swarm had the weekend off to prepare for the regular season closer against Rochester. Georgia can snag the third seed with a win and an Albany loss to New York but could fall into the five seed with a defeat. Last week: 3

4. Buffalo Bandits (10-7)

Are the Bandits getting right at the perfect time? The defense — which has been reinforced by the likes of Paul Dawson, Zack Belter and Adam Bomberry — set a new season best for goals allowed in a 14-7 rout of Calgary. A crowd of over 19,000 watched on as Dhane Smith and Josh Byrne each totaled seven points, while Chase Fraser scored a goal you have to see to believe. Smith is five assists away from tying his single-season record. Last week: 4

5. Halifax Thunderbirds (9-8)

The Thunderbirds secured a playoff spot despite watching from home this weekend. Halifax will be on the road for the first round, with the best-case scenario being the fifth seed and the worst being the eighth. Last week: 5

6. Panther City Lacrosse Club (9-8)

PCLC opened on a 6-0 run, then handled Albany’s comeback attempt well in an 11-7 Sunday showcase. The FireWolves got as close as two goals in the second and third quarters, but a 4-0 Panther City run to start the fourth helped close the door. Callum Crawford had six points and Will Malcom added five. Last week: 8

7. Vancouver Warriors (8-9)

If the playoffs started today, the Vancouver Warriors would be in. That’s a wild sentence considering where the team sat midway through the season, but a five-game win streak has them very much alive. The latest triumph was critical, a 16-10 result against New York which gave Vancouver the tiebreaker between the franchises. Ryan Martel had nine points for a second time this season, while Adam Charalambides and Keegan Bal were close behind with eight each. Last week: 9

8. Albany FireWolves (10-7)

It might be time to panic in New York’s capital. The FireWolves have lost five in a row, having last walked away victors on March 8. It took nearly 20 minutes for the team to beat Nick Damude on Sunday and Albany was held to single-digit goals for a third straight game. Is the early season magic all worn off? Last week: 6

9. Saskatchewan Rush (8-9)

The Rush did themselves a huge favor by pulling off an upset of the Seals, nearly doubling their potential paths to the playoffs, according to Graeme Perrow. Saskatchewan scored nine straight goals, shutting San Diego out for half an hour of game action. Frank Scigliano helped make that happen with 40 saves, while Zach Manns led the way offensively with seven points. Last week: 10

10. New York Riptide (8-9)

Vancouver’s delight is New York’s pain, as the Riptide’s path to the postseason got a bit harder. They’ll be rooting on San Diego and Toronto to take care of Vancouver and Saskatchewan, respectively, in the final week of the season. New York held a 5-3 lead in the second quarter but gave up five straight and never led again. Last week: 7

11. Calgary Roughnecks (7-10)

The playoffs will be held without the Roughnecks for the first time since 2017. The Riggers’ chances ended with a whimper, failing to beat Matt Vinc until eight minutes into the second quarter. Panther City put the final nail in the coffin, eliminating Calgary with their win this weekend. General manager Mike Board and head coach Josh Sanderson will look to retool in their first full offseason together. Last week: 11

12. Rochester Knighthawks (6-10)

The K-Hawks’ seesaw season will likely conclude next week, as a fourth straight defeat put their playoff chances on life support. It was a quiet night for many of the team’s big guns, with Connor Fields, Ryan Smith and Ryan Lanchbury all held under four points. Rylan Hartley made 23 saves in his return to the crease. Last week: 12

13. Philadelphia Wings (6-11)

Friday’s 16-12 win against Colorado was a great result for multiple reasons. First, its always nice to finish on top, even if your postseason changes are already dashed. But perhaps for importantly, Philadelphia contributed to a disastrous 0-2 weekend for the Mammoth — whose first round pick belongs to the Wings. Colorado sits at the bottom of the standings, putting the Wings into pole position for the first pick. Last week: 14

14. Las Vegas Desert Dogs (5-12)

The Desert Dogs rode a five-goal spurt stretching from the third quarter into the fourth for a come-from-behind 12-11 victory against Colorado. However, the biggest news for the franchise this week was a change in venue for next season. Las Vegas is moving to Lee’s Family Forum in Henderson, home of the Silver Knights of the American Hockey League. Last week: 14

15. Colorado Mammoth (5-12)

The Mammoth season got even uglier with two defeats to teams outside the playoffs this week. Colorado needs an upset of Calgary next week to avoid the franchise’s lowest win total since 2011. Last week: 13